More girls and women are being diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum than ever before.
This is due, in part, to the symptoms being more spoken about than they have in the past, with celebrities sharing their insights and stories with the world.
Everyone from Courtney Love, Greta Thunberg, Daryl Hannah and Susan Boyle have shared that they are autistic.
And most recently, the singer Sia has shared on Rob Has A Podcast about her recent diagnosis. “For 45 years, I was like … ‘I’ve got to go put my human suit on,’” she shares on the pod. “And only in the last two years have I become fully, fully myself.”
That feeling of being different is shared with many autistic women and girls and could be part of the reason why, historically, women are much less likely to be diagnosed than men.
“They might seem to have fewer social difficulties than autistic men and boys, but this could be because they are more likely to ‘mask’ their autistic traits”, says the UK’s National Autistic Society.
Contrary to behaviours that people usually associate with autistic people, like rocking in chairs and an obsession with trains, autistic women and girls may demonstrate things like “twirling hair and reading books, and as such may go unnoticed despite the greater intensity or focus typical for autistic people.”
TikTok video creator Kaelynn shared about her experience with autism, saying that she had to learn to mimic other people’s body language and soon learned to fit in that way. This is often referred to as masking.
Things could be changing, though: a report by The Independent shows around 150,000 women took an online test (verified by health professionals) to see if they have autism in 2021, up from about 49,000 in 2020.
If you think you might be autistic, here are the other most common symptoms to look for…
Difficulty making and keeping friends
Having unusual sensitivity to sensory challenges, like not liking the feeling of how clothing sits on their body, or how bright the lights are in their house
Having passionate but limited interests (not always typical autistic interests, like trains, numbers, etc.)
Difficulty communicating with others and feeling like the odd one out
Might have a flat, monotone voice and difficulty conveying emotions with their face, or might not be able to hide their emotions
Stimming – this could be rubbing hands together, skin picking, rocking back and forward, clapping hands, feet rubbing, hair twirling, etc. It’s thought to be a self-regulation tool to help autistic people self-soothe and calm down
If you think you might be autistic, head to the National Autistic Society’s website or speak to your GP for advice and more information.